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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  December 11, 2011 9:00pm-10:00pm EST

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he's the best alternative, fantastic in the debates, and best of all, he has a demonstrated ability to trick liberals into voting for him. .. >> host: as it happens i've
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been reading the decline of the roman empire at this same time i've been reading your book. given the point is i think when a civilization falls it is said to have a point in something that many volumes long and many years is that the collapse of the civilization can seem sudden when the barbarians are the gates but it's the result of a long process of stagnation political errors and cultural decay of all kinds. the point seems to be the opposite in civilization. that civilizations can collapse faster than we generally think. and for a moment the ultimate question is whether we are going the way of romo d.c. what is happening now do you mean the whole toxic broth of news that is our lives every day and western europe, united states the you see this is relatively sudden or is the result of the factors that go back at least as far as the second world war? >> guest: farby it for me to
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disagree with edward gibbon probably the greatest historian of all time but one of the points i wanted to get the civilization was the best one of those historians who has encouraged us to think of historical process has quite a gradual and slow. he covers about the millennium of history. rome seems to decline and fall and as opposed to the problem to that historical change it is a certain complacency we've problems and possibly centuries so why worry in the present and will try to argue in civilization is that it is not actually quite like given selwa gibbons says the rise and fall was not as obvious that the fall and the decline is only something that we see in the
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retrospect. it's the kind of things historians find out later after the fact. for us as contemporaries while we get all kinds of information's of problems i don't think the possibility of a very sudden fall is something that we fully internalize and come to terms with and yet the evidence is all a around us things to collapse rather than a slide and the way we think because we ourselves as individual human beings of a certain rise, peak of power will decline and ultimately we pass on and the reading glasses but it's not have civilizations in fact in the city's or empires of states are. one they go in a completely different way from the individual human beings they
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reach a kind of peak and that is vulnerable and then they can fall very suddenly rather than gently declining on a curve that we see so a part of the book is to change the way we think about change and to make us much more aware than i feel we are instinctively on the potential suddenness of this integration or collapse, to make us realize what happens in the soviet union, what happens to the financial system in 2007, 2008 what is currently happening to the european movement is the kind of thing that can happen to any kind of complex system they can suddenly malfunction and it takes decades or days. >> host: i'm about to veer off because you mentioned the soviet union, and i was there as a journalist between 1969 and 1972 in the brezhnev area and
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certainly any journalist who tells you they predicted the fall of the soviet empire is one. no one did. we just thought it was going to go on forever and get your talking about you see things only in retrospect and yet it seems to me not in retrospect when anyone wrote anything for an american newspaper about how for a simple science for the military part of the economy people didn't believe it and neither did our editors what about sputnik and all of that? what in fact you can easily say we can look at the fact that the economy wasn't working then and didn't work for consumers but in some ways the fall is an inevitable to the little bit of terror taken away which is different from what you're talking about because the record society is now held together by
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terror. >> guest: profound differences i don't want to suggest we are about to have a soviet like collapse but what we saw in the financial crisis is the speed to which our system can malfunction. everybody in 2006 and to fill some seven in the financial business and that there would never be another recession in the united states. in 2007i finally said never isn't a great time frame, how about five years? but of course he lost his money were and the counter party risks of because i wasn't entirely sure why the veto. this is the way things are. the complex entities whether you are talking about the plan the economy of the soviet union or the dynamic financial system that a rose in the western world over the last century or so
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these things have the potential to break down much more rapidly than i think we tend instinctively to assume and i write in the book this kept coming to me as though west did exponentially from around 1500 it kept encountering these other civilizations that were very fragile and collapsed almost as soon as they can into context think to which the empire or the aztecs simply unload the resistance to the europeans but it's not just that. it turned out to be very fragile systems and in the same way as the western states expanded eastwards the great oriental empires do badly in competition with the full and the british takeover what and although china remains independent as the system and practice it has
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become economically hollowed out by the 19th century and ultimately the empire goes down to 1911 and in that sense writing the book taught me important lesson about the nature of the historical process that we shouldn't think of history as cyclical or gradual seasonal or some sense biological but we should rather than give it more in terms of adaptive complex systems, the kind of things they study which in the natural world there are natural phenomena but it's interesting to realize the civilizations are governed by a similar laws to the complex effective systems in the natural world. >> host: you mention in your book watching your grandchildren grow up in england you had the feeling they were learning less history than he had learned their age, and you write, quote, in the financial crisis unfolds i realized they were far from
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alone. a handful of people in the banks and treasuries of the western world had sketchy information about the last great depression. would you expand on that and give some specific example when it comes to the historical ignorance of people that were supposed to be whittled controllers? >> guest: i have a kind of system that i run every time i give a talk to an audience of the financial service industry whether bankers or hedge fund managers or private equity i make sure some point in my talk i ask if they have read one or two books the first book is the united states is the single most important in the financial history about the united states and it contains an extraordinarily brilliant chapter called the great contraction about the great depression and the u.s.. the of the book is embolden setters which is the
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international history of the great depression that is the book that shows why a huge shock and the united states spreads around the world will. some have read these books and when typically it is one person in a hundred and seems to me that incredible environment to the way we educate people. >> host: these our financial people you were talking about, >> guest: >> guest: for working for the major financial and institutions. a level of the historical ignorance in the financial sector is absolutely astonishing and what this means is since some people have entered the profession to have never formally studied financial instruments. the only history they know is the history of their own career
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the wall street of 2007 you can figure out just how little they knew. all the experience was the 1880s and 1890's. hadn't even experienced the 1970's never mind the 1930's. they haven't even read about the 1930's. that is the really scary thing and the only person in the country in the position of many of responsibilities seriously studied the great depression was the chairman of the federal reserve who did most of his academic research on that subject. >> host: every author is entitled to one slow pitch softball question and here is yours. you talk about the six major gaps ranging from the constitution to the consumer is some. the rest started downloading in the 15th century and the east did not. describe them briefly if you will and we will move on from what i see as a problematic
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aspect. this code is a slow pitch a ball from the baseball bat. the idea curious to try to explain the great divergence and the assent of the west in terms of nine teenage children as you have already mentioned can relate to, and i wanted to try to tell this story in a way that would engage them. so instead of talking about what was complex ideas of institutions, institution is a terrible word to use for teenagers there are devised with the rest didn't have and these were competition. i don't talk about capitalism in the book because that is imperialism that is developed by the marxist left. atoka the competition in the political competition. what about the scientific revolution of the 17th century
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which transformed our understanding of the natural world and introduced the scientific methodology as we'll understand it today. but then there is the rule of law which is actually more important than democracy. by democracy holding the universal. in particular in the private property it turned out to be able to the powerful killer especially when it is rolled out in north america. i find modern medicine is the opposite of a killer because what it does is the great breakthrough of the late 19th and early 20th century has doubled life expectancy. people were living twice as long on average as people in the rest of the world. the consumer society which you mentioned as a pretty important one because without that there's no point in having an industrial revolution. there's no point in the cost of the article of cotton clothing. nobody can buy it. nobody expects to a limit. they create a demand for the industrial product. that's crucial. finally the work ethic it's
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already in the process of the spirit of capitalism. when i see that there is something in there that's right wrong to identify specifically what it is that these six things did not exist anywhere else but in the west. that is europe and the european settlement in the new world and they are the things that explain the great divergence that makes them 20 times richer than the average chinese and that is an argument very different from the kind of argument that says it's natural character or its geography. over time they have been used to exploit the great divergence as of course 100 years ago was racial fury but none of those arguments in fact its institutions explain why the west got so much richer,
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hilfiger and more powerful than the rest. >> host: one of the things i was thinking about in part of your book is the question of how much is too much? for instance i agree about consumer is on, but are we not also seeking evidence right now that it can be taken too far during the past 20 years in england and the u.s. speaking specifically that consumers some we can't afford in the simple sense of bonding and wanting what we can't pay for has become one of the deep structural problems within our economy. >> guest: the book as a first question why did the west become stronger? it is over and the answer is yes probably it is over because in each of these six areas you can see signs of real weakness that i think were not there before and you have hit on one of them.
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when they were talking about the process in the spirit of capitalism is partly productive work but also thrift. saving was part of their idea for what made capitalism different because you are deferring and accumulating capital. we've left all that far behind in the last two decades. we ended up in a situation which the savings rates in the united states actually went below zero so nothing at all was being saved for the current income and in order to finance the growth particularly in the last ten or so years before the crisis, more and more households relied on debt to finance purchases rather than on the increases of income, so i think what we did is we took what we invented and leveraged it to the hill, we borrowed to the hill until finally it broke down and i see one reason that we have seen relatively slightly growth in
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the u.s. the main reason is that consumers are shackled by the debt that they incurred in the period prior to 2007 and the debt won't go away and it's to diminish the debt burden and while people focus on that there's no chance of the rapid rebound and no chance of the return to the consumer boom of the previous decade. >> host: anything for instance about the cost college education and in the united states specifically the enormous amount of debt ranging from ten to $100,000 that the graduates of the best universities have when they get out they start already in debt to the things they've done that are supposed to enable them to live the good life and enjoy the good life. let's talk a little bit about religion since as you were just talking about it is clear you
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consider protestant christianity to be one of the advantages the west has had over the rest until the last 50 years or so because it has been linked to the work ethic. as you point out and they were failed to point out the huge exception to those who have been accused of a lot things historically but never have been lazy so obviously prior to christianity to be part of the work ethic is not either necessary or sufficient, but i would like to ask you as you are a thing for and historian but not a theologian i don't think he would claim to be, but i've always wondered about this. how do you explain the connection first in scotland and northern europe and leader in america and the mainland from the 17th century and on between orthodox communism and the work ethic? because the major theme of the orthodox in its heyday from the
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beginning was predestination that absolutely nothing one who goes on earth can affect the chances of attaining salvation. i've always wondered how this correlates suggest as a thinker rather than expert theologian? >> guest: i don't have scan in the game because i was brought up -- >> i sure was and i think the atheism i was taught at home was ease centrally and ethical framework without so perhaps i shouldn't be quite so distant from the subject, but the point that they make in this essay is the way in which they operate is people of low you're point is correct although the notion was
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predetermined to who was saved and who was in that election and who wasn't, in practice, people and the communities particularly were not encouraged to believe in ways that sort of advertise to their neighbors and so these behaviors, hard work, cleanliness and thrift were associated with the membership of the left and the rather subtle way and if you go to geneva what you encounter are communities of self policing people whose business life and private life and religiously for bound up in a network of mutual support and i suppose also mutual policing so that, historians answer, is a kind of powerful network and these communities prospered because of this and especially when they were operating as a minority
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coming in here we see where the parallels were the jews to become so compelling. you were quite right in what you say that they have a huge hole in the argument where it doesn't apply to the jews because they don't have the right kind of work ethic. the jewish form of cabelas on which is somehow morally wrong and this is rubbish. what is interesting is the minorities and the jewish minorities generally seem to have had a powerful work ethic and passed sense of trust within the community which is an advantage if you are in the financial services. >> host: and in america and england. >> guest: or to the judy is on because you can see the chinese minorities operating in this way in asia and elsewhere. being the minority with a common sense of believe gives you a comparison of vintage and the loss of economic activity because you have more trust in
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the majority community around you and that is a powerful tool. the other part of the story which i think is more important it had one powerful social the implication and that was literacy. we have to read scripture ourselves it can't be mediated it has to be in the hands we understand and it is the power of the principle, that new technology that has come in in germany and invected dramatically because everywhere the process comes whether it is with or you name it, it is the increase in literacy you see the printing press suddenly appearing in these communities being used first published in the vernacular and then the
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civilization is that it's not so much the work ethic is the word ethics and that has judea's on which is another religion of the word, so i think that is as good an answer on can give to that question. i come from scotland which has a curious history in this regard and something that might dilute to in the book. if you had gone to scotland early in my story say in the late 16th or early 17th century when they were really taking control, and when i imagine it was rather like tehran who not long after the islamic revolution it was a theo craddock and tolerant of other all all of society to be a part of with the intolerance of even having offended in any shape or form or amazingly high this was
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an extreme case of puritanism come and get in that same city within a century we have one of the greatest flood warnings that the secular nist thinking enlightenment - produces adam smith and all of his contemporaries with the greatest generation of intellectuals the west has ever seen. something extraordinary happened which bought it from its theocratic and tolerant face to douse a link enlightenment over the space of 100 of 150 years. >> host: my theory is looking for the consumer is on something better, so they have to develop a whole set of economic and lubber today and theories to justify all of the trade exposure to the outside. you just mentioned. of course you are talking about a scottish enlightenment you
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don't want to discuss. let's move to another somewhat nasty topic. one of the most fascinating chapters in your book to me was the chapter on madison and i was utterly enthralled by your discussion of the use in the colonial research of eugenics and eugenics research rather than a perversion of the flight of western medicine but he made one observation i find curious which is scientifically uneducated as enthusiastic accept the theory of the man-made global warming but it wasn't the scientifically uneducated i don't think who accepted the eugenics. in most instances it was a scientifically educated, highly educated people who had a lot more influence by the way in america than he ever did in england to our own margaret
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sanger, the champion of birth control. they considered eugenics to be an absolute superiority of certain races. it doesn't say something about one weakness retrospectively that i think even at that time in the early 20th century the western civilization we think this relates to what you say the use of the scientific founding pseudoscience to prop up irrational and unscientific believe. >> the point i was trying to make there is to remind people how to mainstream and how widely accepted racial theories like eugenics' were 100 years ago and this is not some haven't phenomenon it was deeply well-established in the english-speaking world, and it
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was as widely accepted as true progressive as the theories and climate change or today. not to say that they are as long as -- >> the point is i want to make people realize they felt then as certain a theory as people feel sort of climate change that's my point to get you into that mind set you would feel as sure we have a massive problem of the racial degeneration of the government is as we feel today we have a problem of man-made climate change. the point being that there is a very dark shadow side to the western ascendancy. that is a critical point but not all reviews maybe they were not reviewers' grasp the point i'm trying to make when i use the term killer app is there is an ambivalence to the story that
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the western power was capable of doing a great good in the first part of the chapter you are referring to the doctors in west africa generally improving the life expectancy not only for the europeans but for not period at least, during the great infectious disease that make the tropics so dangerous but these same scientific currents of the late 19th and early 20th century, the ones that produce the big freeze in the bacteria in the producing this pseudoscience of eugenics and for people on scientist it was impossible to tell and which was bad. you could be assured that cholera had been found as you are sure that the jews or the racial tuberculosis of the race. creasy to ask now but at the time 100 years ago that kind could have the same respectability and the same status as the work on a cholera.
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>> host: i would like to know also if you think that secularism has played a role in eroding the work ethic i personally don't see a correlation because some of those religious countries in the world and latin america in the middle east for instance are also among the poorest whereas a in china and japan the rate of believe in god is even lower than in secular europe. estimate there is a correlation that is in many parts the christian world. there's been a correlated decline in work and all kind of ways but let's say working out of your and the decline in religious belief and observance and the first time i started to think about this i pointed this
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correlation out and perhaps he was right after all and there was a link between religion and the spirit of capitalism. this was ironic because it doesn't apply with in the united states and the furies of what has come in the clinic christianity in europe tends to break down because what have we attributed to that same revolution or materialism or you name it all of these things happen in north america, too and so it is actually hard to explain this divergent what is it that europe has become so much more secular than the united states and the same modernization process and exposures that i discussed in the chapter that has occurred on the atlantic and i think the
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best explanation for this diluted back to the earlier point in the book is the competition that goes on in the united states between the different religious denominations is as intense as the competition that goes on in the united states in any economic sector and you only have to travel in the bible belt to get a sense of how hard these different evangelical sectors compete for the market share. they have to fill these big churches otherwise the church goes bust it is as simple was that. nothing like that exists in europe. broadly speaking religion as an after state monopoly and just like all state monopolies and all walks of life the list published churches of the protestant europe have recently declined and if not fallen off the cliff since the 1960's and the most lively religious scene that he would get from someone like britain has imported the sectors who are much better at getting people went to church on sunday or any of your day of the
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wheat. >> host: it's interesting. one thing is true though the the right wing evin julca christianity has made its biggest gains in the least educated areas of the country. they are competing for a market share in the states which have the lowest number of high school graduates, the lowest proportion of college graduates which is interesting that this is your interview. one of the things i like most about your book was a catalog of inventions and scientific advances small. you have a truly staggering timeline of important inventions and scientific ideas in the 17th century beginning with a telescope in 1608 and 1669 with the publication of the gravitation. what stunned me was your excerpt i had never read that refers to the telescopes and microscopes and i would like to read for the television audience because it is so amazing and no one has
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used this in a book that deals with other things as you have. as a first mankind fell by the tasting of the forbidden tree of knowledge so the prosperity may be in part restored by the same way. not only by the holding and contemplating but by tasting to make those fruits of natural knowledge that were not forbidden to read the world may be assisted with a variety of invention the new member for signs to the collective the old improved and the rest away. this is an astounding statement and the preachers of the orthodox religion including with absolute horror. >> host: >> guest: remember you are talking to the son of a physicist and the brother of a physicist. what is exciting about it is this sense that you get from that passage that when they know
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what a revolution they are creating. they know the power of the new knowledge and the new methods that have been pioneered at the institutions like the society and they knew that the world will never look the same again once they are done and they are one of the most exciting to write. a century and a half later what people are saying is an amazing relief. in that space you go from printing the bible to printing these extraordinary revolutionary texts of the natural world and think of it as essentially in western europe and a model of it as a kind of shape to grow around embraces scott went to come down to the
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pyrenees and and the border parts of scandinavia and all happens within this we have a great breakthrough about everything from the movement of the planets down to the circulation of human blood and then further down with his microscope into the realm of until that point being literally invisible to human beings it didn't happen anywhere else despite what had been achieved by the civilization before that because they were completely left behind. it had a scientific legacy the exclusion has a to double the
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consequence. if you have to say which of the six are most important i would come down over the side of the two because i think the scientific revolution just transforms what western human beings can do about every aspect of life but suddenly i have a new intellectual tool and it is not just the way these men think about it in the natural world it's the way that they perform experiments that is a new method pioneered by the successors of the systematic repetitive experimentation to falsified and they share their knowledge. it is that networking that is so crucial it's not like trying to find a secret way who would then keep that secret not the scientific revolution encourages is the cultural publication putting in the knowledge race is on to the first to publish the data itself is a revolutionary
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idea. >> host: you casually mentioned from the author who wasn't the most enlightened fellow in the world or the most open to evidence saying is astonishing thing is the only way to stem more of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. to return to the subject of ignorance 150 years don't you think one of the big players of ignorance and western europe at least in the land and the united states is the abandonment of history as chronology? you know it to the 150 years. you have to know that it took place in the 150 years to know how amazing it was. as you yourself have pointed out in your little factoids something like only one-third of graduates of the leading british university know who is the market the time of the spanish armada. if you don't have any time in your head how can you think about anything properly?
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>> guest: i think this book is part of to challenge the way in which we are taught on both sides of the atlantic and to make the plea to restore credible chuckles remarks to the way that we teach. there is a bigger problem in the u.k. than the u.s.. there's been an almost total break with the great sweep whereas most for still given the speed of american history and the world history i'm not sure how far they've really absorb this but they do go through it in their chronological order where you study the history and the british school and from hitler to henry the eighth and martin luther king jr. and that set so you have no sense of the order in which things happened and there are centuries about which unilaterally and viewer. that seems to me having a sense of time where we are located in the continuum of the 4,000 years of the civilization is important
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and the most historical phenomena are intelligible if they are studied and remembered in the long border. i frequently say if i'm talking to a relatively young audience tell me which order these things happened. the reformation. the french revolution, the industrial revolution, the first world war but a few jumble them up and presented the average western teenager with those things, a tiny percent would be able to put them in the right order. because that is not the way that we teach history, and of course if you don't know the order that these things happened and you don't see the cause of the connections between them that is a big part of what this is about it's about exploring the
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causation in the sense i do tell the story pretty much starting in 141-1600 years ago coming down to yesterday and it is arranged in chronological order but these are analytically trying to make statements about the causation and the order in which these things happen when he to know that. >> host: i'm not sure i agree with you about it being worse. part of our graduates place the civil war in the 20th century. how can you know anything for instance about race if you think the civil war took place in the 20th century? >> guest: i think the surveys show this almost as big a problem as in the u.k. so it's something we should be concerned about. the other problem is i think there's been a kind of - and post in some classrooms and
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texts which isn't especially helpful and that essentially says the west grow to be dominant because it was entirely wicked and we should study the story from as it were slavery on if not for the earlier actors and so the notion that the explanation for the divergent is imperialism and empire and character which is attractive still to some people on the left is i think a very distorted reading of the history. so when i talk about shadow side that only makes sense because i'm also talking about the light side and history has to have in there and i do worry about the passage almost exclusively concerned with the misdeeds that wasn't levels of one really cannot attribute too much it seems to me to the imperialism
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since it was essentially continuing what all have done for centuries. >> host: it seems to me it can reasonably be inferred from your book wickedness, too, can only be understood chronologically. >> guest: it can be seen as the monopoly of the western empire, and there were all kinds of things being done by the northwestern pirate the time but the europeans showed up and living under the aztec will if i hadn't had the option open to me. >> host: not at all. your head might have been the cornerstone of the temple. >> guest: this is an extremely important point. there are narratives. we all need a story i think there is an agreement on that when we are learning history for the first time that part of what i am trying to do in the civilization is to give a balanced narrative in which we understand that the west is probably the biggest story in history after 1500 it's
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something that needs explaining. it can't be explained exclusively as the exploitation those or a part of the story but probably not the best explanation for it. i don't think that one can explain terribly much in terms of the western ascent in terms of the enslavement of africa. the trouble phenomena that that was it is unlikely it had as big an impact on the ascendancy as the revolution for that matter of a scientific revolution. >> host: one reviewer made the point in your becky plaine almost ignored the rise of the common market in the european union in the 20th century european postwar history why did you do that or do you simply considered irrelevant to the larger issue of where the civilization is headed now? >> guest: it's something i've written about in the past in fact if you go back to 2001 the book about an excess which has an entire chapter on the
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monetary union in which i rode -- >> guest: >> host: i thought that happened -- >> guest: terse the expression that it didn't happen until the 1950's and with the monetary union which was divided in the late 1990's and use the word literally is one of the most interesting phenomena of the modern times but when i wrote about this the monetary union is a step too far into the system as they design it is without any federalism will break down after about ten years and indeed it has and we are witnessing a process of the european disintegration has been going on since the creation of the euro it was a terrible mistake and is extremely difficult to and make that mistake but people who were interested in my faults of the subject need to go back. in the great scheme of the western ascendency i think the story of the european integration are the rates at
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which it is not the big story of the post 45 it is the polarization of the world. it's the alternate models of the western civilization. the one that we think of as capitalists and the alternative one that had been devised by karl marx and their success imitators which established itself in moscow. that is the big story post 1945 and i told store using a rather nice image and i ask a question which is a good question why was it the soviet system couldn't make bluejeans, overalls that developed in the united states but incredibly simple to make? and was a sign of that system to be doubled to manage the consumer society or produce the consumer society that it couldn't even maintain? >> host: it couldn't and it
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couldn't prepare. one of the things that makes one feel that we are entering the end time scenario, and as you put, is the breakdown of a lot of the kind of services which have always been taken for granted in the western countries and this is something that one can see even in one lifetime but the level of service and by service i mean for repair and upkeep of everything that makes the standard of living and good has degenerated enormously in the last 40 years. >> guest: at the same time the paradox is leaving much of that traditional infrastructure by the wayside. i think it's important to recognize before one gets carried away with the visions of the collapse of the west there are certain things but are still being done well in the west and i mean here the very west as in the silicon valley if there is one thing that seems to
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illustrate the power of the killer that some today it is the way that part of the west the western part remains the cutting edge of innovation and is a combination of competition and science and a system that protects the intellectual property property rights that produces the extraordinary transformation of the confirmation of the last 20 years. >> host: don't you think this there is another side to that, one being it is a wonderful thing you can put out a factoid which you can easily now with all of the digital tools we have but not really know anything about what lies about what lies behind us. >> guest: we can generate as much information and the last
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two years and the last data dump that happens every single day was once an enormous opportunity but it is a massive challenge to the cognizant power because our brains are not really that different of the civilization. mauney border he is particularly the younger generations who are growing up in this certain environment of the mass destruction with the bombardments and the communication cannot keep war and peace. they changed my life and i keep asking my kids and my students do you have the concentration power to warrant the use or will you just not be able to because of the message, the e-mails and facebook page and the alerts
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that are constantly bombarded you? since the civilization as transmitted by book more than by any other, it is that which transmits the learned accumulated wisdom of one generation to the next may be the big change the the danger is the communications revolution ability to communicate as never before has somehow damaged our capacity to absorb long sustained work of literary achievement that is a great concern of mine and i say in the book what should our koran be? we are going to get least a few texts and privilege them what should they be? we want everybody to have read and i find myself rather despairing this project will never be fulfilled but would get to the point when we regard somebody that hasn't read war
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and peace is incompetent to hold high office for somebody that doesn't know the work of shakespeare is disqualified from presidential elections we obviously will get to that point but the decline is to engage the big books worries me. >> host: there is all this information but information and knowledge or two different things and not all of the unfiltered information in the world enables people to think about what is important and what is at? >> guest: interpretation and understanding can be left out i quote them early on in the book who say that it's not the notes that dupre is, the notes you play i hope the leaders of the civilization which is the shortest book in the 600 years would enjoy the notes i don't play, the things that are not there. >> host: you conclude with a
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statement that our own worst enemy. if we go the way of rome and will be because of our own ignorance of our own institutions of history to those kind of reverse twist on the old 1960's statement that our parents warned us against. if one looks at the 2012 presidential campaign so far in the united states and who can deny it in which it was ignorance has so far been permitted as a great virtue what would have to happen to make us address our own decisions instead of seeing either immigration or a class of civilizations as the main problem and as no responsibility on all? >> guest: i think this requires a special kind of leadership churchill himself personify. churchill is an interesting figure for a variety of reasons, but the most important things
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are one, start with knowledge. this is a man in the study of history and ready to tell a popular things that people did not want to hear and pay the political price for that. he did in the 1930's and his wilderness years and that kind of leadership is in pretty short supply on both sides of the atlantic right now, and we have to find that kind of leadership because what we are going to have to do in the next not 100 years but ten years is engage in some institutional reform of the way that the western civilization works read across the board. you mentioned education. we have a massive problem in our system of public education in the united states. it is not delivering and the poor neighborhoods. to bring that leadership to the floor is to make it more aware. shuttle the complacency that says in the future everything will be designed in california but assembled in china.
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my book is saying no that is not the future that you are going to get. the transition from the west to the rest is happening very fast in real time and it represents a challenge brought to your grandchildren but to you, today. and if we don't act, if we are complacent we are going to pay a heavier price and gradual decline what expect. >> host: i recognize in the last chapter of your book something editors have said to me is can't you put something optimistic in there for people to take away? but if you were a betting man how are things going to go away? are we going to continue this decline or are we going to wake up and is it not perhaps a little too late especially in educational terms? >> guest: i like that. the united states always does the right thing when all of the alternatives are being -- that is the optimistic note.
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this is a country that like the crisis likes to bring things to a really serious path and then gets it right. i feel we are still somewhere not quite at the end of it but i think at the end we will get it right. i can't say the same for europe which is one reason i'm here. >> host: as you know yourself in your book if the barbarians are the dates were already too late one thing you don't mention as obviously you finished this book long before the political season started, but the focus of trying to make people think the problem is without, without in terms of immigrants overrunning the borders or without in terms of alien influences like radical islam isn't simply saying the problem is us an act of political leadership which
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hasn't occurred >> guest: that's what is needed. the barbarians are us. it is our own dysfunctional families, it is our own and deprive the under class that we need to worry about. we can't blame the rest for catching up. good luck to them, and we can't blame immigrants who want to come here and get away from the failed institutions in their own companies. but what we can do is blame ourselves for failing a generation. but i do think the generational politics will matter more in the years to come. the young generation doesn't quite know what is going to hit it as it then ends up having to pay for the indulgence of the baby boomers with much higher lifetime taxation rates than the baby boomers have to pay but i think the younger generation is being felt not only in the unfunded liabilities like a mountain on top of them often in terms of the poor education most
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of them have been given and the elite has prospered under our institutions. >> host: thank you very much. i think anyone who reads this book will realize in addition to having the chronological argument, it has a discursive quality, and i now know what it is and i am not going to tell. thank you. >> now running on booktv is ron kessler his most recent book the
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secrets of the fbi. you have done a whole series of books along this line; correct? >> guest: a lot of fbi related books. i like to go after secrets and i even did a book on palm beach because there's a lot of secrets there in the society and i call that a life crisis but i think people on tv want to get information about important subjects which are to in these books. >> were two things in the book we should be revealed about? >> of the fbi has bugging devices of course the court authorized and a dozen credible stories before they do a break and they will conduct the surveillance promise who goes in and who goes out and do what anybody as their own might go back to the premise and they do on traffic accidents, they will
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have a ticket. they will even take a photo of any that might be in the promises and short to a veterinarian contract and the veterinarian will provide just the right amount of tranquilizers to shoot in before the break in and knock him out and at the end of the break-in. another is how the story of the fbi robert hansen who was the fbi agent is different than what you see in the movie grease. it is a real story but there are a lot of secrets about marilyn monroe, vince foster and even the killing of osama bin laden because the fbi was actively involved in that. >> you obviously have a love inside sources. you get pressured in any way to reveal those sources? pressure to reveal the sources?
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>> guest: the light of and people ask me how do i get them to talk. usually on water board then. that works pretty well. but after awhile you develop some trust and they feel i will tell on the story but at the same time if there is something - i will report that. for example, one of my books what's the dismissal of the fbi director over his abuses and this book takes even worse in the same time when the fbi does something i say that for example that's why we have not been attacked since 9/11. every few months they say it is a myth that the fbi cannot function as the intelligence agency that develops and leads to the future that is now the main priority of the fbi. >> the most recent book by ron kessler, the secrets of the


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